Posted in music | tour dates on February 3, 2014

IRM

When many of us think of the song "Respect," we think of Aretha Franklin. Many people are shocked to learn that Aretha never made a penny from all the radio broadcasts of her performance of R-E-S-P-E-C-T (this is because she wasn't the composer.) It's true--many musicians receive little compensation or struggle to pay bills despite having widely-aired recordings...

...With its denial of a Performance Royalty to artists, the U.S. stands with a short list of countries that includes: Iran, North Korea, China, Vietnam, and Rwanda. Most other countries in the world pay out at least small amounts to performers for the use of their performances of songs on radio--a use that makes up the content of their broadcasts. To clarify, songwriters and publishers of songs do get paid a little bit, but there is nothing allotted for the folks who record and sing the versions of songs that we hear all the time and whose recordings are used to sell advertising on commercial radio.

- David Byrne

If you support artists' pay for radio play, you will probably want to sign this petition for the I Respect Music initiative. There will be a concert/rally for the cause at Le Poisson Rouge on February 25 featuring appearances by David Byrne, Janita, John McCrea, Mike Mills, Marc Ribot, and more. It is a FREE show but you do need to RSVP by sending an email to rsvp@lprnyc.com. More info here.

In related news, still no word on tickets for the Byrne's Here Lies Love which is set to return to the Public Theatre at the end of March.

The full text of Byrne's letter about I Respect Music is below....

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I've been getting together in the last few months with a small group of musicians and writers who are concerned that there is no organization to represent us on many of the issues that affect us. More on that later. One issue that has been discussed recently is the payment of performance royalties on commercial radio broadcasts in the U.S.

When many of us think of the song "Respect," we think of Aretha Franklin. Many people are shocked to learn that Aretha never made a penny from all the radio broadcasts of her performance of R-E-S-P-E-C-T (this is because she wasn't the composer.) It's true--many musicians receive little compensation or struggle to pay bills despite having widely-aired recordings. Executive Director of The Jazz Foundation, Wendy Oxenhorn, recently released an eye-opening statement explaining why performance royalties on radio broadcasts are so vital:

For nearly 14 years, I've been working to save jazz and blues musicians from eviction, homelessness and hunger. On a daily basis, legends who recorded with Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Chet Baker, Miles Davis are having to be saved. Even the legends themselves; including Odetta, Abbey Lincoln, Hank Jones, Elvin Jones, Ruth Brown, Etta James and so many others have been touched by the Jazz Foundation of America. Had there been radio royalties all these years, I can guarantee that many of the crises these great talents have had to face in their old age would never have had to exist.

With its denial of a Performance Royalty to artists, the U.S. stands with a short list of countries that includes: Iran, North Korea, China, Vietnam, and Rwanda. Most other countries in the world pay out at least small amounts to performers for the use of their performances of songs on radio--a use that makes up the content of their broadcasts. To clarify, songwriters and publishers of songs do get paid a little bit, but there is nothing allotted for the folks who record and sing the versions of songs that we hear all the time and whose recordings are used to sell advertising on commercial radio.

The failure to pay artists' performance royalties in the U.S. means more than just the loss of U.S. radio royalty income for performers--there is also the lack of reciprocity to factor in. The U.S. doesn't pay performance royalties to foreign artists either. These royalties are often collected by foreign organizations based on the airplay we get in much of the rest of the world, but that money never makes it back to us because foreign artists aren't getting paid for their U.S. airplay. Tit for tat. There's a LOT of money sitting out there that could help the US economy, not just musicians. So, maybe it's time for the U.S. to join most of the rest of the world. Some musicians who live here have their songs played on the radio in Europe and some are even big in Japan, but we don't see anything from that. It's a pretty silly situation that has existed for decades, and it's time to correct it.

The momentum behind addressing this issue is approaching critical mass: there is currently a bill supporting artists' radio royalty sponsored by former Congressman and newly appointed Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Mel Watt; Jerry Nadler is sponsoring it here in N.Y. If we act now, we can fix this (see petition below.)

How would this affect music fans? How would it affect broadcast radio?

Music fans wouldn't be directly affected--it wouldn't cost them anything. If anything they'd benefit, as some of the artists they like would stand a better chance of having a continuing life in music. How about radio? Public radio and college radio, which run on tight budgets, would not be affected. This is only about commercial broadcast radio--the folks who make money by playing music. Many of those stations are owned by large conglomerates, and we musicians can expect them to hire lobbyists and propagandists to convince the public and congress that somehow, unlike most of thecountries in the world that A) musicians can live on the "exposure" their radio play provides and B) these companies won't be able to make a profit if they are expected to pay a little bit to performers who provide the content that draws listeners.

But, if most of the world can do it, why can't we?

Will this affect digital and streaming radio? No. Digital and streaming radio stations already pay royalties to artists. Pandora, the streaming radio service, was lobbying Congress in the hopes that they might be allowed to pay less, but that effort has been abandoned, for now.

So our little group thinks this is a clear and simple issue--and definitely winnable. It's not an issue that is likely to encounter partisan resistance: all political sides pretty much agree on this, and everyone benefits. Even the radio station owners will benefit indirectly, as they rely on the constant and continued creation of recordings to fill their airtime.

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Comments (33)

Come on, Mike Mills ... Make a Butter O8 reunion happen for this show. I'll R-E-S-P-E-C-T the shit out of that with my hard-earned-coin.

Posted by Anonymous | February 3, 2014 7:38 PM

Boo hoo hop for David Byrne and his 5 million dollar apt in NYC
And the millions he made from MTV with that crappy band the talking sleads

Gimme a break

Posted by Bart | February 3, 2014 8:02 PM

David Byrne is a tool

He constantly cries about rich people in NYC
Ruining music blah blah blah

If you check celebrity net worth he's worth 45 million dollars

Typical liberal hypocrite

Also the talking heads were fucking lame and way over rated

Without the corporate machine known as MTV
This tool bag would be serving coffee at dunking donuts today

Posted by Tom | February 3, 2014 8:07 PM

i'm not going unless pussy riot is on the bill

Posted by Anonymous | February 3, 2014 9:06 PM

Come on?!

Posted by Logosofia | February 3, 2014 9:06 PM

I don't pay for music, I pay for concerts.

Posted by Anonymous | February 3, 2014 9:46 PM

I love when I hear that one Marc Ribot song on the radio!

Posted by Anonymous | February 3, 2014 10:38 PM

^ Um. You can balk all you want at Byrne and what he does/not preach about. But seriously, anyone who knows anything about Ribot knows he's a 100% musician's musician. Disrespecting him ain't cool at all. Do yourself a favor, educate yourself on his background and who has played with.

Posted by Anonymous | February 3, 2014 11:27 PM

9:46 is a fucking douche.

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 12:30 AM

anyone wanna touch cocks?

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 12:41 AM

This makes INFINITELY more sense than bitching about Spotify. I'm completely behind this, particularly since radio no longer breaks artists, and the local component of radio has been completely destroyed by shit-head politicians.

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 12:43 AM

^nerd boner

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 12:48 AM

sword fight

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 1:28 AM

802/807 Anyone who rally thinks The Talking Heads were overrated is a clueless idiot. Fear Of Music, Remain In Light and Speaking In Lounges are three of the most interesting and innovative albums of that great era of music. Bands today still try to emulate what they did back then. Unfortunately no group today could pull off what The Heads did back in the day making hits songs while pushing music forward. As for David being rich, God bless him! He deserves it! As for being a liberal, God bless him again!

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 3:37 AM

I would bet that if David Byrne was your neighbor, he would be the guy that calls the cops when you start blasting Sunn O))) records at 4:00am.
He's not the punk he was in the late 70'CBGB era anymore, but has morphed into a liberal leftist grumpy old man without a single good song since 1986.

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 4:19 AM

I'd call the cops if you blasted that crap! I've met David Byrne a few times and "grumpy" is the last thing that I would call him. More like delightful. He's a really nice guy actually. As for his music, I liked a few songs off Feelings, Uh-Oh & Rei Momo (great tour) but none of it was in the same league as the Talking Heads.

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 5:02 AM

David Byrne needs to chill out with all this legal mumbojumbo and watch GARBAGE PAIL KIDS THE MOVIE.

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 6:07 AM

Spin media causing major headaches for BV. This site may not be around much longer.

Posted by Hey | February 4, 2014 7:28 AM

7:28 How so?

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 8:24 AM

The real important question is: what is that on his head?

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 10:04 AM

Cool pic of Dan Aykroyd bro!

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 10:19 AM

337, the name of the band is Talking Heads

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 11:10 AM

If spin media causes this site to die, what's nice is the Next Big Thing will not have anonymous comments like this.

Now on to responding to every comment for no good reason: Slamming the talking heads is for retarded meatheads. Slamming Marc Ribot (and the logic behind the slam) is just ignorant. Calling the cops for your neighbor blasting Sunn O)) is cowardly, deal with that shit yourself and never call the cops, you pussy! And I also download music illegally while paying a shitload of money every year on vinyl and concerts. Sorry?

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 12:07 PM

I had no idea that BV was part of Spin Media. Huh.

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 2:46 PM

Spin Media shut down Videogum yesterday. Is BV next?

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 3:09 PM

lol 12:07 thinks people listen when he talks. also, tl:dr

Posted by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 6:53 PM

David Byrne is your quintessential uppity liberal asshat
I see him riding his bike all the time at Chelsea piers or jogging

He has a net worth if 40 million dollars and us miserable
Like all liberals

The talking heads sucked shit
The music was crap

I would have banged the bassist in 1979
But she turned into an old hag liberal as well

Posted by Bartedge | February 5, 2014 1:17 PM

If Byrne wants to make more money, just take the millions and do a Talking Heads tour.

Posted by Anonymous | February 5, 2014 1:37 PM

Respecting music is fucling gay

I hope David Byrne loses the breaks on his Prius and drives himself off a cliff

Posted by Bob | February 5, 2014 6:24 PM

Hi-
David Byrne didn't get paid to write this article. He did it because he's a really decent guy, and he wants to help out the musicians he knows- many of whom are going broke, not making enough from the sales of our records to pay for making the next record.

There's nothing to be done for people who make music no one likes.
But when money is being made off our music- or for that matter, off whatever we make, we should get some of it, right? Do you really have to be a 'grumpy liberal' to think that?
Having commercial radio stations give something to the musicians they make money off is fair- its how almost every other country does it- and will help a lot of artists and musicians who could really- trust me- use it right now.

writing articles like that and organizing free concerts like the one we're organizing at Le Poisson Rouge this february 25th is a huge pain in the ass. David is helping with this because he's a good guy. . #IRESPECTMUSIC. and the people who make it. Cut the brother some slack
marc ribot
brooklyn ny

Posted by marc ribot | February 6, 2014 1:09 AM

I respect music plenty, and I deplore the state of reimbursement as it stands. However, I cannot be moved to act until the insanity that is the marketplace for other forms of art is structured and regulated. Right now, it's just a front for international money laundering and securities fraud. Some drunk fool spills a can of paint and now it sells for one hundred million dollars. I deserve that money.

Posted by Anonymous | February 6, 2014 2:58 AM

David Byrne and St. Vincent what more is there to say

Posted by Flagg | February 13, 2014 4:29 AM

Anne Clark is ageless android David Byrne & David Lynch had commissioned a few years ago. She's not human man. She's a very pretty, crazy talented robot of some kind.

Posted by Gregor | November 4, 2014 10:46 AM

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